I've just returned from a great event in London hosted by one of our #PerfectPartners SoftCat. The Venue was The Ritz Hotel. I have presented in most of the venues in London over the years but this one evaded me. Now I can tick it off the list. And what a great venue to discuss NetApp Flash Technologies with customers and prospects. In fact #PerfectPartner, #PerfectSubject in the #PerfectVenue !
One learning for me from the discussions at the event was that many customers are reaching an inflection point where they are looking closely at formulating their future storage strategy. In one case for the next 5 Years. Flash featured highly in the discussion with the promise of improving performance and storage efficiency. Avoiding doing what we've always done also featured highly along with the changing role of IT and how IT is measured within organisations.
The conversations centred around the inclusion of Flash in their storage technology strategies. What the options are, where it fits, how is it being adopted and what the market looks like.
There was some discussion on the caution in adopting a new technology and understanding Flash is certainly a sensible direction to proceed in.
I, and others, have said in past posts that Flash will be a game changer for the storage industry and if the ramp in the amount of Flash Storage NetApp have shipped is anything to go by, this prediction is one I am safe with. The latest figure is a staggering 51PB shipped to date. Its fair to say that NetApp have solid knowledge and experience when it comes to advising on Flash technologies and strategy.
NetApp brought the first Flash products to market on the FAS platform as long ago as 2009.
FlashCache was the first product and resides in the Storage Controller, caching Hot data. This improves performance for workloads such as those that consist of random repeat reads, increasing I/O throughput, reducing latency by up to a factor of 10, and can take significant load off the backend storage. This can also help prevent over provisioning (short stroking) , and reduce costs. One key point is that FlashCache does not require administration making it easy to deploy with zero overhead.
Next up was Flash Pools. Flash Pools is an ONTAP feature combining Solid State Disk (SSD) with Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Technology in the drive tray. The beauty here is that the SSDs act as a cache for those workloads provisioned on the HDDs. Again this is great for those workloads that exhibit random read and overwrite behavior and the SSD data stays hot across all types of failover.
Lastly Flash Accel inter-operates with ONTAP and provides server based caching to improve application response times, working with 3rd party Flash Cards in the Server tier. Other benefits include increasing server utilisation, and this is available to NetApp customers at no cost.
These are the key components in the NetApp Virtual Storage Tier (VST), which allows optimization of performance and reduction of costs without increasing complexity.
We also discussed the All Flash Array (see previous Blogs for more detail) space and the EF540 for accelerating performance and delivering consistent low latency for dedicated workloads, such as Oracle or Web & Online Retail applications where delay has tangible impact on the business.
The goal for the sessions was to demonstrate how NetApp deliver the most comprehensive and complete portfolio of Flash products. Whether the requirement is for a low operational impact caching approach or dedicated All Flash Arrays for extreme performance. I think we achieved this, and at such a prodigious location. Flashy is one description for The Ritz, but Class is another, and lots of it !
If you ever do get the opportunity to go to The Ritz, take it ! I think the audience can certainly recommend the breakfast - I was presenting at the time :- (
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